Guest blog post: composer Joel Puckett on Christopher Rouse's 'Odna Zhizn'
I met up with a trio of composers before the concert and the four of us had dinner across the street from the hall. We traded our favorite Rouse stories and wondered what kind of piece Chris might have cooked up given the very cryptic program note that had been published.
Our individual expectations for the piece were probably more revealing about our own music than our 'expert' predictions. One of us thought that it might be similar to the flute concerto, given the focus on a loved one. Another thought that it might be similar to the second symphony, given the line from the program note, "Her life has not been an easy one." And I thought (hoped?) that it would be more like the sound world of the Requiem.
We were all stunned in hearing the piece. I was reminded of the line sometimes credited to Beethoven, “Music must surprise and satisfy at every turn”. It turns out each of us were right and, at the same time, all of us were wrong. In "Odna Zhizn," Chris manages
As we walked down 65th street, we were collectively inspired by Rouse's willingness to push his expression. It would be very easy for him to sit back and write the same piece over and over for the rest of his life. Not that any of us were surprised that he is still a growing and restless artist, it was just dazzling to come face to face with such powerful evidence.
Composer-In-Residence, Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestras
Faculty, Peabody Conservatory of Johns Hopkins University
PHOTO OF CHRISTOPHER ROUSE (by Christian Steiner) COURTESY OF BOOSEY & HAWKES